Dr. J. Earl Kadan 71, a physician here and in Silver Spring for 38 years until his retirement last year, died of cancer Friday at the Sligo Gardens Nursing Home in Takoma Park.

Dr. Kadan, who specialized in obstretrics and gynecology, served internships at the Baltimore City Hospital and the Women's Hospital of New York City. He was a resident physician at the Columbia Hospital for Women here before entering private practive about 1942.

He was born in Baltimore, graduated from American University, and earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland medical school in 1937.

Dr. Kadan was a founding fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a fellow of the American Abdominal Surgeons, a life member of the Southern Medical Society and a member of the D.C. Medical Society, the American Fertility Society and the Washington Gynecological Society.

He lived in Washingotn and was a member of the University Club of Washington.

Survivors include his wife, the former Rose A. Linton, of the home; three daughters, Rosemary K. Sullivan, of Rockville, Catherine K. Williams, of Adelphi, and Patricia K. Joyce, of Gaithersburg; two sisters, Florence K. Bailey, of Los Angeles, and Lillian K. Lindsay, of Timonium, Md., and six grandchildren.

The family requests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society. CAPTION: Picture, DR. J. EARL KADAN, 1969 Photo